Newlywed life is pretty great so far. I’m finally getting used to calling him “my husband,” seven months later. And now we get to enjoy friends’ weddings without stressing about our own. The engagement was an incredible time in our lives, but it definitely had plenty of stressful moments. Especially when it came to saving and spending for our big day.
Neither J.R. or I are particularly great at saving money, but wedding planning kind of forced us to get good at it. With a definite goal in mind (the wedding) and a concrete sum to save for (all that money we promised we’d pay our vendors), we knew we had to save. So we just did.
Now that the wedding is behind us, that wedding savings account (and the small bit of bucks still in it) has become our house fund, and we’re still in saving mode. After more than five years of living together in apartments—we shared his studio for a bit at the beginning—we’re ready to have a place all our own. A bigger place; one with a yard for our dog, Bacon, and at least, like, three more kitchen cabinets than we have right now. We’re outgrowing our apartment every day.
Having a home of our own, just like the wedding, is a really tangible goal that’s got us motivated to save money day-to-day. We’re trying to find ways to spend less so we have more to add to our house fund, and making use of a few other ideas for making it easy to build up a nest egg for our future nest.
Eat Out Less and Buy Groceries More
Money spent on eating is the biggest part of our budget, and it doesn’t have to be. We both love going out to restaurants, a lot. When we have groceries in the house, it’s pretty easy to convince ourselves to eat dinner at home—usually pasta, chicken or tacos. Those meals are really affordable. But as soon as the pantry runs out, we’re back to our old ways, spending $20-$50 on dinner for two, depending on the night.
One big way we’re saving for our goal is just being more disciplined about grocery shopping and eating dinner at home (and packing lunches for work—that’s huge!). The whole system’s not perfect yet—just last night we ordered a pizza, in fact. But we’re getting there.
Build a Capsule Wardrobe
I don’t spend a lot on clothes, but I’m pretty mindless about it; I will try on a few blouses at Target and the next thing I know, I’m spending $100 on what was supposed to be a quick shampoo run. Because of that, and because my overstuffed closet is a disaster (not a money problem, but a life problem), I want to try a capsule wardrobe.
If you haven’t heard about it, basically to build a capsule wardrobe, you cut your closet down to a tiny number of pieces each season (25-35) and wear only those things—everything else is given away or stored away (and absolutely no shopping!). At the start of the next season, you can refresh your wardrobe with your storage pieces or buy a few new things. The benefits are huge: a clean closet, no-fuss dressing in the morning, and if you keep it up, you tend to have a wardrobe full of quality pieces that you love. If you’re interested in more on capsules, check out the blog Un-Fancy by Caroline Rector (this post is a perfect overview of capsules), or listen to Caroline wax about capsules on this episode of The Lively Show podcast.
Automate Transfers to Savings
This is, by far, the easiest way for non-savers to start saving. Twice a month, my bank automatically takes money from my checking account and dumps it into savings. I don’t even have a chance to think about spending that cash. It’s just like paying a bill, only you’re paying yourself.
In addition to that twice-a-month automatic transfer, I have my checking account set up to send $1 to savings with every debit card purchase I make. It’s painless—spending $28 at the gas station turns into $29—but those little amounts really add up over time.
Find Other Ways to Make Money
There are two ways to save money: Spend less or make more. While we were wedding planning, J.R. and I both amped up our extra revenue; he started driving for a ride sharing service on the weekends, and I did a little more work freelance writing. We’ve both cooled down from our side gigs since the wedding (I think we each needed the break), but I’m still a believer in side hustling to save for a big goal. My friend Elise of Simply Scaled Down (she’s great with money), did a helpful roundup of ways to make a little extra cash.
This is just what works for us. I’m not a finance blogger, but I do follow some. If you’re looking to save money for a big goal, check out Daily Worth, Broke Millenial, Simply Scaled Down, and Get Rich Slowly.